Editor’s note: Charlie Creme, Graham Hays and Mechelle Voepel each vote to determine espnW’s national player of the week, which is awarded every Monday of the women’s college basketball season.
STORRS, Conn. — After UConn’s dominant 81-57 victory over Notre Dame on Sunday, guard Crystal Dangerfield was asked to describe all the ways teammate Megan Walker is impacting the Huskies.
“She’s doing something different every game, it feels like,” Dangerfield said. “Sometimes she’s out there being a screener and a scorer. Sometimes a passer and a scorer. A rebounder and scorer. When she puts that all together — I think she did that tonight — it looks great.”
The key word is “scorer” because after losing a combined 39.3 points per game from graduated standouts Napheesa Collier and Katie Lou Samuelson, the Huskies needed someone to be a high-level point producer. So far, Walker has done that.
The junior had 26 points, 13 rebounds and 4 assists against the Irish and 29 points, 3 assists and 5 rebounds Thursday in a 92-78 victory over Seton Hall, earning espnW national player of the week honors.
Walker has scored in double digits in all eight games this season for UConn, including a combined 52 in two games (Nov. 26 at Dayton and vs. Seton Hall) that Dangerfield missed because of back spasms.
“Going into the season, I think she knew [scoring] was going to be one of her biggest jobs,” Dangerfield said of the 6-foot-1 Walker. “She goes inside and outside.”
Walker said another big point of emphasis for her is offensive rebounds. She had just two in the Huskies’ first six games, but she had seven combined in the previous two. Coach Geno Auriemma had told her how much UConn needed someone besides Olivia Nelson-Ododa to hit the offensive glass hard.
The Huskies had 16 offensive boards Sunday, and they outrebounded Notre Dame 48-32 overall. Walker said she knows the Irish are not playing at their usual level, but the Huskies still went into the game fired up because they had something to prove: that they are still a powerhouse and can play at the level people are used to seeing from UConn.
Walker came into this season prepared for a lot more responsibility.
“A lot of that comes with just being older,” she said. “And a lot of it is confidence.”
It’s not that Walker lacked confidence her first two seasons, but now she says she’s more comfortable taking charge.
“I know what coach wants me to do,” she said. “I know how to play off my teammates, and they know what type of shots to give me. And I know what type of shots to go get. I’m trying to go out there and show what I’ve got every night on the court.”
Also considered: Taiye Bello, Minnesota; Dee Givens, Western Kentucky; Kiah Gillespie, Florida State; Rhyne Howard, Kentucky; Dorka Juhasz, Ohio State
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